We just got word that our dad, my father-in-law, is administering medical aid to refugees currently living in tents at the port of Piraeus in Greece. He has said little else about it, but the thought of it has not been far from my mind. In a few weeks, we will be swimming in Greece's most beautiful waters, drinking coffee by the sea, and eating what we want, when we want. Not far from us will be refugees, forced from their homes and living in tents. It is a lot to reconcile, yes, but is it any different than living in comfort anywhere in the world? Does merely having oceans to safeguard us from disaster make us, somehow, more sympathetic?
What a privilege to be able to choose less. Paring back—donating bags of clothing, dejunking your kitchen cupboards and throwing out expired food, selling your unwanted furniture—is a privilege of the comfortable. In fact, choice is a privilege of the comfortable, so often abused and misinterpreted as a right. Each of us lays claim to all manner of things. Mark and I are working ardently to cultivate our life according to an overarching philosophy that we do not own anything: nothing is ours outright, not even our blood lineage. All of us are of the Earth, belonging to no one absolutely. We have faith alone to call ours. If this is true of humanity, as I believe it is, then it is certainly true of stuff. Even the best of it — my pale pink Kitchenaid stand mixer, or Mark's ukulele that we bought from a craftsman in Greece, or the land we hope to one day heal and farm on — is for naught in the end. Genesis is echoed every year on Ash Wednesday, carrying with it the totality of existence: You are dust, and to dust you will return. What a relief.
This need for less is something I have been wrestling with in Vermont, where we actually have "very little." I brought one Off Farm outfit, on account of being a chronic under-packer and believing I would not need many clothes. And I do not. My yellow sweater and black pants have held up perfectly well to daily wear. Yet I crave my clothes, of which I have many, that are currently living in my parents laundry room in Ohio. We are inhabiting someone else's space, equipped with all the necessities to get by quite comfortably: running water, electricity, a sharp knife, some cutting boards, books and blankets. We are blessed with the essentials, and still I miss Mark's and my things. The point is (I think) that when your accumulated goods are away from you, it becomes harder to claim you do not need them. Or it has been for me. Honesty in the name of the blog, I guess. Sharing this inner struggle embarrasses me, but in striving for improved humility and a more confident faith, I have set to sharing it.
So how does this tie in to photos of udon noodle soup? Ingredients have made this place feel like home. Having access to nourishing, cleansing, and comforting ingredients (hello, garlic) diminish the craving for anything else. I recently found a local jar of an ingredient on my Dream List of Ingredients: sweet white miso. Miso is fermented bean paste hailing from Japan, the addition of which makes everything taste better. This soup is focused on the miso + ginger broth and little else. It is wholesome, nutritive, and ready in no time.
WHITE MISO + GINGER UDON SOUP
2 bundles udon noodles
salt + pepper to taste
2 tb. fresh ginger, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks bok choy
1 bunch scallions, chopped
2 tbs. coconut oil
4 c. beef stock
1 1/2 c. water
1 tb. white miso
2 tsp. fish sauce
1 tb. raw honey
— warm coconut oil in a stock pot and sauté ginger and garlic until fragrant.
— add beef stock and water, cover and bring to simmer for five minutes.
— in a separate pot, bring water to a boil and then add udon noodles, cooking for five minutes. strain and set aside, saving the water to cook your eggs in (or don't, but it saves you a few minutes).
— in stock pot, add fish sauce*, carrots, and a dash or two of salt and pepper, simmering for five minutes.
— cut the heat, and miso, honey, and bok choy. stir in and let the flavors marry while you soft boil your eggs.
— bring the noodle water back to a boil, and drop in eggs. hard boil for six minutes and then transfer to ice cold water. peel and slice the eggs in half.
— dish out the stock into bowls, add a handful of noodles, drop the eggs in, and top with a generous handful of scallions. lap it up with the bowl just beneath your chin, because it's fun that way.
*if you do not have fish sauce, i have read that you can sub soy sauce with a bit of worcestershire sauce.